Earlier this week, I shared my recent experience of working with a writing coach. And I’ve found it so beneficial, I wanted to share the love by introducing you, dear readers, to a broad spectrum of coaches with a broad range of expertise. For today’s guest, please offer a warm welcome to Christian Marie Herron, a coach who focuses on the business and branding side of being a writer and business person.
Christian Marie Herron is a Strategic Storyteller + Brand Strategist. She is the founder and owner of Herron Media, a boutique, bespoke storytelling and branding company serving entrepreneurs and small businesses in a variety of industries. Her joy is helping business owners weave together the symphony of their personal experiences, talents, and desires into a powerful Brand Story that helps them attract more clients and make more money. She’s a New England native but currently lives in Florida with her husband and three children.
You can find her at www.christianmarieherron.com, as well as on social media:
How can a writer decide if working with a coach would benefit them?
The majority of my clients are great writers already but need help weaving together all of their experience and talent in a clear, compelling way. I think it’s tough to tell your story when you are in it so it’s really helpful to work with a storyteller who can help you pull out threads of your story that will really resonate with your audience. So if a writer is feeling overwhelmed with how to arrange their life experience and talent in a way that feels good and natural, then they may want to consider working with coach or storyteller.
What sort of goals or skills do you work on with a client?
I teach my clients how to be the Ambassador for their own life. It can feel unnatural to talk about ourselves without feeling “braggy” or self-serving. My “Ambassador of You” is a fun but powerful exercise that stretches your thinking. I assign you a country and task you with coming up with compelling and sensory language designed to persuade me to want to visit. This is experiential learning at its best because you become immersed in using language that is not attached to your identity, which helps free up the protective space in your brain that wants to keep you modest. You can then begin to apply the same approach to talking about yourself. In addition to the Ambassador exercise, I also I assign very customized and personalized questions and exercises for each client based on our initial session together. I encourage a free writing approach that helps my clients delve deeper into their subconscious. The responses they send me often reveal themes and metaphors that serve as the thread that helps me weave their unique stories together beautifully.
What lies outside the client/coach relationship? (For ex., writing craft, critiques, organization, motivation, goals, psychology)
As I mentioned, the majority of my clients are already talented writers and have the craft down. When it comes to telling their story, I teach them the framework that I use so as their story evolves, they have the tools to be able to update their story in a strategic way that will help grow their brands.
I’m not a counselor or therapist so psychology would definitely fall outside of the coaching relationship.
Tell me about the mechanics of a coaching relationship: how often you meet, the format, etc.
There are two different ways of working with me. The first option is a one-day intensive or “VIP Day” where we meet for 2-3 hours, usually virtually over Skype or telephone. Each client completes a comprehensive set of customized questions that they send to me a day or so prior to the session. This gives me time to prepare for the session and I am able to bring lots of insights and additional questions. It’s a very intensive, collaborative process and my clients often tell me that the session portion transforms how they see themselves and their story. After we meet, I start crafting their Story and it is usually delivered in two weeks or less. This is ideal for people who like to dive deep quickly and want their story crafted fast (usually to use to prepare for press releases or as copy for their website). Overall the story is actually a powerful business tool that inspires confidence and clarity and positions them well for their market by helping them stand out from all the “noise.”
The second option of working with me is in a 12-week program. The process is the same as I described above but allows for more time to unpeel layers of the story and to give clients the space they need to complete the customized exercises. It’s a very safe container for my clients where we meet twice a month for an hour, for a period of 3 months where we discuss the assignments and uncover the themes and metaphors that we use to craft their story. Our time together really helps my clients to gain a lot of clarity about who they are, what they do, why they do what they do and why people would love their brand of brilliance. At the end of the program, clients receive their written story that they can use as the foundational piece for their business, copy for their website, bio, elevator pitch, etc. The content that is created can be used to help the writer market themselves in a series of strategic blog posts or articles. The story is a great way to reveal more of their true selves to their audience, a nuanced vulnerability that creates connection.
An example of this for me is the fantastic writer Cheryl Strayed. She absolutely slays me with her memoir writing… she’s not afraid to pierce that bubble of laying bare the emotions and perspectives that make her who she is as a woman, wife, mother, daughter. As a result I want to read more about her, join her Facebook fan page, and look up the writing workshops she runs. This all comes from the willingness to share the power of your story.
How can a writer get the most out of a coaching relationship?
To get the most out of the coaching relationship I think it’s important to be really present both during the sessions and to commit to completing the exercises. It can be challenging to look at old stories and discover that often, they are untrue or were formed out of misinformation or habit. My job is to help reframe stories in ways that helps my clients feel really great about who they are and what they do- but they have to be willing to stay open and to be willing to sit with whatever bubbles up. When they do, it’s both a transformative and illuminating experience.
Do you have a particular area of expertise, or something you bring to the client/coach relationship that other writing coaches might not?
I am a writer as well so I have a deep respect for the craft of writing and for the challenges that most writers face- especially self-doubt, procrastination, and the inner critic. As an introvert, I’m well versed in the value of introspection and have well-honed observational skills. I’m not afraid to gently challenge objections that often come cloaked in fear. I can usually see so much more than who you think you are. Themes and patterns emerge easily for me. In my former life, I was an HR Manager for over 15 years. I did a lot of listening and interpretation for a living. I’ve coached hundreds of people through the spectrum of life’s challenges. Overall, my joy is being able to help others see how amazing they are by learning to tell their own Story.